Friday, July 19, 2013

Assorted Stuff

Once again, we're in the that part of Summer where God turns the oven on broil and goes off to tend to other business for a while. The unrelenting fury of Mean Ol' Mister Sun does tend to sap my ability for deep thinking, but even so, I do notice a few things going on.

1) Sharknado. It's a movie about a tornado full of sharks. But it was always advertised as a movie about a tornado full of sharks. If you tuned into a movie called Sharknado expecting anything else, you have no right to your disappointment. Understand, I'm not saying it was a good film by any reasonable standard of the term. But lots of bad movies have been made, like, let's say, Battlefield Earth or Zardoz. (Oh God, Zardoz.)

Pictured: Sean Connery wearing a mustache, a diaper, and an expression saying "I quit James Bond for this?!?"

But they were just ordinarily bad. Sharknado, at least, has the potential to be legendarily bad. But that's beside the point. If you tuned in for the world premiere, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

2) Sikorsky Prize Won. There were two prizes awaiting the first man-powered aircraft: the Kremer prize for the first man-powered heavier-than-air vehicle, and the Sikorsky prize for the first man-powered rotary-wing aircraft. The Kremer prize was won in 1977 by Paul MacCready's Gossamer Condor. The Sikorsky prize proved to be a much tougher nut to crack ... until now. The AeroVelo team, funded by a Kickstarter campaign, designed and built an enormous contraption that, nonetheless ... well, you have to see this to believe it.

Yes, you saw that right. One dude, by himself, pedaled that enormous thing into the sky.

3) Photobombing Saturn. By the time you read this, it's already too late to participate, but someone noticed that one of Cassini's routine photo surveys of Saturn would include the Earth. So, someone at NASA HQ got the idea that everyone should go outside, smile, and wave to make it a proper photobombing. So I did. (I mean, why the heck not?)

4) For Sale: Rocket Engine, Used Once. Earlier, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos financed a salvage mission to try to recover some old discarded Apollo hardware from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Specifically, he was looking for remnants of the Saturn V first stages that were discarded after use, off the Florida coast. They found what they were looking for, but weren't sure what mission they'd come from yet. Well, after some analysis, they can report that yes, they found the engines that sent Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins on their historic voyage aboard Apollo 11. He doesn't intend to sell the engines, of course, but he does want to put them on display somewhere.

5) Zombie Satellite! A while back, the Kepler planet-hunting satellite lost another of its control gyros, leaving it with two left. Three has been considered the minimum number necessary to give the pointing accuracy needed for Kepler to do its job properly. I say "has been considered", because in a week or two, NASA will try a last-ditch effort to find a work-around for this issue. If it's successful, Kepler will continue hunting new planets for a little while longer.

And that's probably a good place to wrap up for now. For all the stuff and nonsense going on, it's worth remembering that we do live in a wondrous, beautiful world.

Wondrous and beautiful, even if it is a world with Zardoz in it.

What the HELL, Boorman?!?

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